Johnston turns out as Dist. 42 race looms

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More than 238,000 Rhode Island voters have already turned out for the election, a rate of 29.5 percent, with Tuesday’s main event just a few days away.

According to the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s portal, 102,426 Rhode Islanders have voted early while 136,073 have submitted mail ballots.

Johnston voters are getting out to Town Hall and sending in their choices in droves, too. As of Thursday morning, 2,916 residents had shown up to vote early while 3,424 people had voted by mail. That total of 6,340 voters thus far puts Johnston in the top 10 of all of the state’s municipalities. Among towns, Johnston is only third to South Kingstown and North Kingstown in turnout.

One race on the ballot that has caught particular attention is the District 42 battle to replace departing incumbent Rep. Stephen Ucci. He announced the day declarations were due that he would be stepping down from his post after 16 years, endorsing Edward Cardillo Jr. as his replacement.

Frank Ricci joined the ballot at the last second, switching from a Town Council bid to seeking a spot at the State House.

Both candidates told the Sun Rise they have been out campaigning through the last week, knocking on doors and listening to concerns around the district. Cardillo said most constituents have been anxious about “getting us back to normal after the pandemic.” He said he has had to switch up his strategy, social distancing while talking with constituents and approaching them in their yards or when they’re out walking. He’s still answering and making calls this week as well.

“People [are] talking about how to keep jobs in the state,” Cardillo said via email. “Infrastructure, school upgrades, supporting small business.”

Ricci said he has been telling voters he wants to make education, especially vocational instruction, a top priority. He said other issues that have been presented include substandard roadways and water quality.

“A lot of people are concerned about the landfill and also in the northern part of Johnston, there are concerns about the water quality,” Ricci said. “They’re saying the water does not taste very well.”

Cardillo said that he believes District 42 residents want a representative who “will respond to their calls and needs and continues to support education.” He also advocated for maintaining tax stability for homeowners and improving infrastructure.

“It has been a challenging year for everyone, but I want to be a strong voice who can work with local and state officials to benefit the District,” Cardillo wrote. “I am open to listening to everyone in the District. Regardless of their party affiliation, because at the end of the day we are all neighbors and want to make R.I. a better place.”

Ricci said, if he were elected, he would like to reconvene the General Assembly “as soon as possible” and urge Gov. Gina Raimondo to release more funds to small businesses. He added he’s also heard issues at the state prison, where he said he’s spoke with correctional officers about coronavirus, overtime and staffing.

“If we’re going back to Phase 2, the companies that need it are going to need that money as soon as possible,” Ricci said. “Like my slogan says, I will be the voice Rhode Island has been waiting for. I’m not going up to the General Assembly to sit there with my hands folded. I’m going there to accomplish the will of the people.”

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